Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Where, O, Where Has My Netbook Gone?

I got another email today asking about our MIA Netbooks:

"I was looking at the netbooks, but you haven't offered them in awhile.
Maybe it's the market shift toward tablets and away from netbooks.
System 76 isn't offering a netbook anymore either, which is another
indication of a market trend beyond just your customer base."

My reply:

"Actually, it's just that we need to do a bigger run of netbooks this time and it's crazy-expensive to do it right. But, we have been working on it since last October and we have a top-tier OEM, a brilliant new design (which improves daily until the actual day of the run), and literally the first prototype is being shipped today or possibly tomorrow depending on time zone issues. I'm sure people are tired of hearing "soon, soon", but it's the reality of how the process works (unless we keep it behind closed doors and official release dates)."

What I didn't say was that we could have had a line of netbooks for Christmas. Our main technician, Tony, the one who answers the bulk of support emails, has been asked a million times (it feels like it) "When are you getting netbooks in stock?"

The pressure is quite heavy.

We could have had them in stock for Christmas. Any business person would have encouraged us to do so. If we had investors they would have forced us to do so. But, the netbooks we were going to launch for the holidays were only 98% good enough. The touchpad was a bit jumpy. Sentelic, Cypress, and one other I can't remember all make not-good-enough touchpads. We could not get the OEM to use the type of touchpad one we wanted. So, no netbooks. Sorry.

This takes serious self-control on the part of our R&D staff. It is so deviously tempting to just go for it knowing that some people won't notice the problem. But as soon as you hear yourself saying "won't notice the problem" you know you are have seriously crossed the line.

So, we have been working on our netbook line but won't launch until it's fully ready. We are sorry.

Here's the important part --> Our job is to show everyone the awesomeness of Linux. If there's a problem with a computer, people will assume it's Linux, not the computer. Linux gets maligned when hardware builders don't work hard enough to eliminate all potential issues they can possibly eliminate.

If the problem is fixable from a hardware angle, then it's up to us to make sure it is fixed or eliminated before launch.



  1. System76 ditched their netbooks because they think nobody will buy a system that's not 1080p.

    I hate the 1080p obsession. It's killing the availability of lovely resolutions like 1900x1200.

  2. Mackenzie! It is great to hear from you. We noticed that in one of your profile pictures (I forget which site) you were wearing the black "Friends Help Friends Use Linux" t-shirt*. We were so happy to see that. We've seen a few other women in technology wearing it (Nixie Pixel in one of her videos). I've sure worn out mine. I am looking forward to doing another design, same text (but more legible) before summer.

    Thanks for the feedback re: 1080p. I think the next post might resonate with you. Stay tuned.